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Local Tech Wire

DURHAM, N.C. – , which developed one of the world’s first effective treatments of AIDS, is being sold.

The biopharmaceutical firm said Friday it had agreed to be acquired by Arigene Co., a Korean firm, for some $81 million.

Arigene will pay $3.60 in cash, a 55 percent premium over Trimeris’ average trading price during the past three months.

The news sent Trimeris shares soaring nearly 38 percent to $3.60 in afternnon trading before closing at $3.53.

Trimeris shares trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol TRMS.

The company recently moved to Durham from Morrisville, having paid $1.8 million to terminate a lease on its headquarters, according to an SEC filing and its corporate Web site.

In August, Trimeris reported net income of $1.3 million, or 6 cents a share, for the second quarter ending July 30. The profit was double that of a year earlier, but Trimers acknowledged that overall revenues were declining and that cost cutting helped boost profits.

The company had been under pressure by shareholders to reduce costs and did recently pay a $21 million dividend as it cut staff and curtailed research and development.

Long criticized for its high cost ($10,000 a year) and inconvenience (the drug must be injected), Fuzeon was never the blockbuster drug it had been expected to become.

In July, Trimeris reported that Fuzeon sales increased 5 percent from the first quarter to $29.1 million in the second three months of 2009. However, that total still represents a 24 percent drop from $38.3 million in the same quarter of 2008.

Global sales increased 9 percent from the first quarter to $19.4 million, but U.S. and Canada sales fell 2 percent to $9.7 million from $10 million in the first quarter and 39 percent from a year ago.

Sales in the U.S. and Canada are less than a third of the $32.9 million reported in the second quarter of 2007.

Arigene is a developer and manufacturer of healthcare systems and medical devices. The acquisition of Trimers is part of a strategy to expand into biotechnology, according to the companies.

The boards of directors of both firms have already endorsed the deal as have stockholders who own 36 percent of Trimeris’ shares, the companies said.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Trimeris and its manufacturing and marketing partner Roche sell the HIV drug Fuzeon globally.

If the deal is successful, Trimers will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Arigene.